Monday, October 3, 2016

I Gotta Feelin.......

The Grade 2's first Unit of Inquiry,"Who We Are," encouraged the children to reflect on their interests, attributes and emotions, and connect these to how they think and act. Given this, it's no wonder this is one of my favorite units of the year!

My objectives? To teach and have the girls learn the following:

      • The definition of a feeling/emotional response
      • How feelings can affect our bodies (think butterflies in the stomach, stress/tension headaches)
      • Most of the time, we CAN control how we feel, even though we cannot always control what happens to us
      • Positive vs. negative self-talk
      • Coping skills when feeling sad, angry or frustrated
I started the lesson by showing them a picture of a snake, and telling them that it was my pet, Penelope. This IMMEDIATELY elicited some gasps from the girls, with even bigger responses given when I told them that Penelope was here in the classroom to visit. 

Once I told them that I actually did not have a pet snake and therefore she was not at Seisen to visit, I heard both groans and sighs of relief. This was the perfect way to initiate a discussion about feelings and how differently individuals process the same information. 

After lots of wonderful input about our emotions and the connection between the mind & body, I asked the girls to create their own 5-point scale of anger. This is modelled after the great work by Kari Dunn Buron, who developed the use of the Incredible 5 Point Scale. Here are some examples of what the girls were able to come up with--I was so impressed!!

What anger looks like and feels like to grade 2 students. Some of the girls were able to "go further" and write what they can try to do when they experience these emotions. Note the various faces and details that some of the students used.

Lastly, I focused on negative vs. positive self-talk, or, what we tell ourselves when we experience disappointments, frustration, anger, sadness, etc. It was especially important for me to let the girls in on a secret: that they CAN be in control of their emotions! Our internal dialogue is central to our mental health and well-being, and the more we can teach our students to use positive self-talk (the sister to the now famous "growth mindset") I believe the happier they will be. Below is one of the slides I used to demonstrate this concept. Many thanks to Yura in 2B for allowing me to use her picture!
A storybook example came from the book, The Pout Pout Fish Goes to School, by Deborah Diesen, which tells the tale of a fish who is always thinking terrible thoughts (e.g., "I am not smart," "I don't belong," etc.) when things do not go his way.  The girls seemed to grasp how negative self-talk doesn't help to solve problems but only makes us feel worse.

Most impressive were their performances when asked to complete partner skits. Each pair was given a scenario that would prompt them to feel a negative emotion. An example includes, "You accidentally forgot your homework and the teacher is asking for it." The girls were asked to choose a part: either "Negative Self-Talk" or "Positive Self-Talk." It was really fun watching them play these roles yet, at the same time, demonstrate the idea that, through our thinking, we are sending our hearts messages. This is only the beginning of the conversation, but I believe it's never too early to plant the seed about the power of positive thinking.   ~Ms. Carnright

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